Kabbalah Tree of Life Meditations
If you were to go online and search for “what is kabbalah” you would get a variety of different opinions. Some will say “Kabbalah is only taught to Jews after they have studied the Torah for 20 years…” Others will say, “Kabbalah is a spiritual science that anyone can learn and utilize.” Still others will say “It’s a secret occult teaching, given to initiates of our order.”
Flavors of Kabbalah
Kabbalah comes in a variety of flavors. You can get a quick idea of what flavor we’re talking about by how it’s spelled.
Kabbalah usually is the generic spelling, but it can also reference the Judeo concept of it. This would include the secret or hidden aspects of the Torah.
Cabbalah spelled with a C, usually is a reference to the Christian interpretation of Kabbalah. It would expound upon the Christian teachings using the same ideologies of Kabbalah.
Qabbalah spelled with a Q, is a reference to the Hermetic Kabbalah. This is sometimes referred to as the Occult Kabbalah. Here we have the use of Gematria applied to all sacred texts…. no central paradigm is necessarily utilized… it could be Ancient Egyptian/Christian/Jewish.
I chose the spelling Qabbalah for it’s more essoetric reception of the philosophy.
What is Qabbalah Pathworking?
By Qabbalah Pathworking I refer to the interesting dynamic of the Tree of Life from Kabbalah, and the use of the Tarot trump cards. In general the Tree of Life has 10 spheres (sepherot) that are interconnected by 22 lines. Mundane human consciousness is conceptualized at the bottom sphere. The goal of the spiritual person is to rise upon the tree of life, until their mind is at one with the upper most sphere (Ketter) – which is the presence of God.
In many occult societies they designed tarot decks to correspond to the paths between each sphere. For example, the Taro Trump cards (Major Arcana) number as 22 different cards. Each card was placed on one of the 22 paths of the Tree of Life.
Occultism doesn’t see the tarot as much as a divination art, as it is a mind altering art. The imagery on a tarot trump (if it is from a essoteric society) will relate to corresponding aspects of the path it represents. By meditating upon the tarot trump, and subsequently entering it, we can see our current state of mind regarding that phase of our growth and make lasting changes.
Wait, entering a card?
Yes, meditation upon a card is to hold it in your minds eye. But by mentally projecting yourself into the card’s imagery, you get a glimpse of the card as it relates to you personally. So therefore, if you entered the “hanged man” you might see a vision unfold before your eyes. By analyzing it later, you may discover some key elements in your life that are keeping you in a state of suffering.
Which Deck Should I Use
To do Tree of Life meditations with the Tarot cards, the cards should have been designed with specific images, Hebrew letters, and so forth. Even the colors of choice are important.
Some decks to consider for this would be:
- The Rider Tarot Deck (As the author was a member of the Golden Dawn and his imagery was taken from the Hermetic Qabbalah)
- Thoth Tarot Deck (This is a deck of Thelemites. It has a rich symbology from the works of F.Harris and A.Crowley)
- Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (This was my deck of choice when I was doing this)
You can do any of these things, as you feel they soot you.
Pick a Card
First, decide which tarot path you want to dive into. You can use a diagram, much like THIS ONE to help you see where each card fits on the Tree of Life paths each have corresponding astrological, emotional, mental meanings. You would need to research which path you feel you need to work. This could be the traditional way of initiation – by taking the path closest to your starting point (the first path from Malkuth) and finding the card represented. In the case of Malkuth, there are three paths: Judgement, The World, The Moon.
If you have a specific card, I would highly recommend you burn incense that relates to that card. To know what to burn, I would recommend the work 777 And Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley: Including Gematria & Sepher Sephiroth. This is a foundational text of Western mysticism. It has tables and tables of correspondences. The idea in Western Mysticism / occultism, is that by using corresponding images, colors, smells to the energy we want to tap into – we dial in closer to said energy.
If you don’t know what incense to burn, then a good choice is Sandalwood. It’s a very calming incense.
You also don’t have to burn any incense at all! It’s up to you.
Some people like a calm form of music. This would be music with no lyrics or distracting words. It would be soundscapes, or ambient music. Some feel music is distracting, while others feel it helps with the somber mood.
If you do get into the correspondences, then you might want to also decorate your meditation space with the colors representing the card you will be meditating upon. You can also use candles of that color to help assist.
As with most of the meditation styles I have represented on this site, you begin with breath work.
Counting the breath
First try counting your breath. You can choose what ever method you prefer, but you can do something like:
- inhale (mentally count “one”)
- exhale (mentally count “two”)
You would repeat the breath counting till you can reach 10, without much mental noise. The goal is no thought between the count of 1 and the count of 10, but that is very difficult in deed. Just use this technique as an opener.
Pranayama (Breath Control)
You can do the traditional “Four Fold Breath” or something else you may have learned along the way. For the Four Fold Breath, just follow the instructions below. You would do this till you feel centered and ready to begin the core meditation exercise.
The Four Fold Breath goes like this:
- As you inhale you mentally count… say to a count of 4 (it could be higher or lower depending on your ability)
- At the end of the inhale you hold your breath with a pause of the same count
- Then you slowly exhale with the same count
- At the end of the exhale you pause for the same count, and repeat
Pranayama is referred to as Breath Control but it really means energy control (or life force control.) By manipulating the breath, our energy is also manipulated.
When you feel you are centered and ready to begin, you would hold this card and stare at it. Try and scan it in sections. Spend time trying to remember the nuances of the card. The figures, colors any letters or words.
When you feel you have the card memorized/scanned, close your eyes and bring the image to your mind’s eye (your imagination.) In your mind, rebuild the card and see it as the same as it was when you held it physically. It has the same colors, people, words, etc.
Entering the Card
The way I was originally taught, was to visualize myself before this card. The card being taller then my mental image of myself. I would do a ceremonial sign and then step into the card.
Others like to picture the card as a door. They open it, and step into what’s on the other side.
But my favorite technique I attribute to Aliester Crowley. I do not recall where I read it, but his technique was to visualize himself … and the object he is scrying (say this card) coming towards him at a great speed… much like a train coming right at you. As the card envelopes you, it stops just past you – you are instantly immersed into the card.
I like Crowley’s method because it provides me with instant images. Sometimes you step into the card and nothing comes to mind, as you are building up expectations. But with Crowley’s technique you just fall into it. Like jumping out a plane. You are instantly in the card.
Calling for a Guide
Once in the card, you can take note of anything going on. Maybe you see a movie like experience. Or perhaps you see a visual landscape before you. Take note of the sounds, images and smells. Try and bring yourself to this reality with all your senses.
Often, the advice at this point is to call and ask for your spirit guide, knowing they are from God and have only your best interest at heart.
Some schools will say you should test the guide… tests could include:
- Asking for their name
- Asking them to write their name
- Asking whom they serve
- Asking if they believe in God
- Some would ask the guide to repeat back certain ceremonies they have learned
The rest of this meditation is up to you. It will play out as you need it to.
Is This New Age
New Age is a term that gets a bad wrap these days. It’s often seen as a “soft, easy process” designed to make the author money by regurgitating some “mumbo jumbo.” What most detractors don’t realize, is that what is often in their classification of “new age” is ancient wisdom that’s been around thousands of years.
The movie “The Secret,” wasn’t about some one’s ideas from the last few years… it goes back thousands of years. Parts of it incorporate the teachings of Jesus.
Kabbalah faith would suggest that the Kabbalah was given to humankind at the time of Moses, or the time of Adam. However, from a historical approach the first few commentaries on Kabbalah was around the year 1340. Did Kabbalah exist before that? Most likely. Kabbalah was kept secret. It was viewed as a powerful aspect to religion and much like Tantra in Buddhism it would only be taught in secrecy.
So… is it new age? Well – historically speaking, we can’t define it as “new” as it goes back at least 800 years.
But I ask… what does it matter if something is “new age” or not? The real question is, “does it work?” The only answer to that is to try it for yourself.